Forest

Forests disappearing since 2000? Google cloud maps global changes

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 14, 2013   View Article

In this era of big data, anyone can now see how and where the world’s forests are changing thanks to a new mapping project made possible, in part, by the computing resources of the tech giant Google.

The map compiles 100-foot-resolution satellite images of Earth’s land area taken each season, every year between 2000 and 2012, to paint a picture of where trees were lost or gained. Globally, the map shows that 888,000 square miles of forest were lost between 2000 and 2012. In the same period, 309,000 square miles were gained.

Extreme heat waves to quadruple by 2040, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 14, 2013   View Article

The type of heat waves that wilt crops, torch forests — and kill people — are expected to become more frequent and severe over the next 30 years regardless of whether humans curb emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a new study.

These are heat waves akin to those that baked many regions of the U.S. in 2012 and devastated crops in Russia in 2010. Such bouts of extreme heat are so-called “three-sigma events,” meaning they are three standard deviations warmer than the normal climate of a specific region for weeks in a row. In the Russia event, for example, July temperatures in Moscow were about 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.

Cutting trees to cool the planet?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 19, 2011   View Article

In a twist, a new study suggests that regularly logging forests can quadruple the amount of carbon dioxide soaked up from the atmosphere.

The trick is to use the harvested wood in place of steel and concrete during the construction of new homes and buildings and replant the forest with fast-growing, carbon-soaking trees.

How Earth’s infernos affect climate

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 10, 2011   View Article

At a glance, images of the forest fire raging in Arizona and the volcano erupting in Chile seem to suggest they are filling the atmosphere with gases and debris that will mess with the global climate, but experts say this week’s events, in isolation, aren’t much to worry about.

The Willow fire in Arizona has charred at least 336,000 acres so far, filling the atmosphere with smoke, soot, and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. It joins a string of fires that have raged elsewhere in the U.S., including Texas and Florida.

Captive male frog coughs up babies

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 3, 2011   View Article

A captive male Darwin’s frog coughed up ten babies Thursday at a zoo in Santiago, Chile, a milestone in a project to save the amphibians from extinction.

The vulnerable species is one of two members of the only genus on Earth that rears its young inside of its vocal sac, a job taken on by the males.

Fish poop boosts distant forests

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 24, 2011   View Article

The Amazon’s big fish poop seeds far from where they eat fruit, helping to maintain the genetic diversity of the tropical forest, according to new research that shines light on a little-studied mechanism of seed dispersal.

The seed excretions occur during the six- to eight-month-long flood season, when the characid fish Colossoma macropomum swim from lakes and rivers into vast floodplains where they gobble up fruit dropped by trees and shrubs.

Ancient Ginkgoes, Redwoods, Threatened in China

Publication: National Geographic Magazine   Date: April 16, 2008   View Article

China is home to more than 31,500 plant species, about 10 percent of the world’s total. Several species, including the dawn redwood and the maidenhair tree—also called ginkgo—are as old as the dinosaurs.

But 20 percent of these plants are at risk of extinction due to human pressures, according to Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach